Facutly and Research

Nonprofit Strategy & Governance

HBS faculty research, field experience, and program development in nonprofit governance address how nonprofit boards can enhance organizational effectiveness by focusing on strategic realignment, organizational stewardship, financial oversight, and board leadership. Recent research explores; how nonprofit boards can maximize their contributions to the organization; what leaders need to know about joining a nonprofit board; and measuring accountability and performance of nonprofits.

  • Strategy, Leadership, and Performance Management in the Social Enterprise Sector

    Herman B. Leonard

    Leaders in the social enterprise sector face challenges that neither the government nor the private sector is poised to handle. To help them achieve their goals and to ensure that their organizations do not lose sight of their mission, Professor Leonard suggests that leaders utilize a framework for decision-making, and a strategy for building support and capacity for those projects that they deem valuable.

  • The Many Faces of Nonprofit Accountability

    Alnoor Ebrahim

    Nonprofit leaders face multiple, and sometimes competing, accountability demands: from numerous actors, for varying purposes, and requiring differing levels of organizational response. Yet is it feasible, or even desirable, for nonprofit organizations to be accountable to everyone for everything? HBS professor Alnoor Ebrahim provides an overview of the current debates on nonprofit accountability, while also examining the tradeoffs inherent in a range of accountability mechanisms.

  • Lofty Missions, Down-to-Earth Plans

    V. Kasturi Rangan

    Most nonprofits make program decisions based on a mission rather than a strategy. Acting without a clear, long-term strategy can stretch an agency's core capabilities and push it in unintended directions. The fundamental problem is that many nonprofits don't have a strategy; instead, they have a mission and a portfolio of programs. This article outlines for nonprofits a four-step process for developing strategy.

  • High Performance Nonprofit Organizations: Managing Upstream for Greater Impact

    William P. Ryan, Allen Grossman, and Christine W. Letts

    Drawing on management techniques used by successful managers in both businesses and nonprofits, High Performance Nonprofit Organizations outlines approaches that nonprofits can use to build their capacity for learning, innovating, ensuring quality, and motivating staff. Illustrated with case studies and examples, the book outlines processes for achieving these goals.


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  • Recent Publications

    • “Virginia Mason Medical Center”
      Case/Richard Bohmer /June 2010

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      “The Limits of Nonprofit Impact: A Contingency Framework for Measuring Social Performance”
      Paper/ Alnoor Ebrahim and V. Kasturi Rangan /May 2010

      View Online

      “The Many Faces of Nonprofit Accountability”
      Paper/ Alnoor Ebrahim /February 2010

      View Online

      “The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: Network Strategy”
      Case /Michael E. Porter, Carolyn A. Daly, and Andrew Dervan /January 2010

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      “Accountability,” in International Encyclopedia of Civil Society
      Book Chapter/ Alnoor Ebrahim /2010

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    • “International AIDS Vaccine Initiative”
      Case /Allen Grossman and Catherine Ross /November 2009

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      “From Little Things Big Things Grow: The Clontarf Foundation Program for Aboriginal Boys”
      Case /F. Warren McFarlan and Michael R. Vitale /July 2009

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      “Bob Beall at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation”
      Case /Robert Steven Kaplan and Sophie Hood /April 2009

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      “Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 2008”
      Case /Allen Grossman, Thomas J. Steenburgh, Lauren Susan Mehler, and Matthew Benjamin Oppenheimer /April 2009

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  • Recommended Reading

    “The Future of Social Enterprise”
    Paper / V. Kasturi Rangan, Herman B. Leonard, and Susan McDonald / July 2008

    Download PDF

    Social Enterprise Faculty Seminar Series: “Strategy, Leadership, and Performance Management in the Social Enterprise Sector”
    CDROM / Herman B. Leonard / 2007

    Buy Online

    Social Enterprise Faculty Seminar Series: “Strategic Alliances: The Power of Partnering Between Nonprofits and Businesses”
    CDROM / James E. Austin / 2004

    Buy Online

    “Lofty Missions, Down-to-Earth Plans”
    Article / V. Kasturi Rangan / March 2004

    Buy Online

    High Performance Nonprofit Organizations: Managing Upstream for Greater Impact
    Book / William P. Ryan, Allen Grossman, and Christine W. Letts / 1999

    Buy Online

    “Working on Nonprofit Boards: Don’t Assume the Shoe Fits”
    Article / F. Warren McFarlan / November 1999

    Buy Online

    Harvard Business Review on Nonprofits
    Book / Various Authors / 1999

    Buy Online

  • MBA Courses

    Leading and Governing High Performing Nonprofit Organizations
    Professor Allen Grossman

    See Course Description